Round 23 of the Intrust Super Cup will see two of the inaugral Mendi Blackhawks members run onto Jack Manski Oval for the last time in the regular season.
Anthony Mitchell (Blackhawk number 3) and Michael Parker-Walshe (Blackhawk number 4), will both retire from the sport they love after playing 127 games between them in the past three seasons. In that time, Mitchell only missed one game with his team.
He also enjoyed a notable NRL career; with 39 games for Parramatta, Roosters and Cowboys and was a part of the first ever Cowboys winning side in the 2015 Auckland 9s. He twice reprersented the Indigenous All Stars.
“I’ve got some pretty awesome memories over the years,” Mitchell said.
“Making the grand final for the Blackhawks in 2015 was great, but the strength and character the team showed in 2016 when we were down on troops is something I will never forget.
“Daniel Strickland (strength and conditioning coach) even had to play on the field with us, he did a pretty good job too.
“To be given the opportunity to respresent Townsville in their first ever Queensland (Intrust Super) Cup team was literally the cherry on top for my career.
“It has been very satisfying and a massive honour to be a part of, and helping to build a new club.”
While fans won’t see him on the field in the future, Mitchell has expressed an interest with helping the team off the field.
“I think it’s important that ex-players remain involved in their club in some way,” he said.
“If it’s helping the coaching staff or development, I really want to stay a part of this great club.”
He also thanked people who had helped him along the way to achieve what he had in his career.
“I really want to thank my support base, family, especially fiance Ashton and son Remy, for everything they have done for me.
“Since I have announced my retirement, I’ve been completely overwhelmed with well wishes and messages of support.
“I feel like the club is in very good hands for the future, which makes my decision to retire easier.”
At only 26 years old, former Cowboys Under 20 player Parker-Walshe’s decision to retire at a young age was also not an easy one.
“Deciding to retire after being a part of the Blackhawks and establishing ourselves for the past three years, was a really tough decision,” Parker-Walshe said.
“My time here has been really special. I have decided to finish due to the fact that I am unable to give the club the 100% commitment it deserves.
“I am really trying to better myself, especially in my career, and I haven’t been able to do that as well as I have wanted to.”
Parker-Walshe will also be taking with him some great memories to reflect upon in retirement.
“The semi final we played at home against PNG is one game that I won’t forget, it was definitely the best atmosphere I have been a part of.
“I will definetly miss the boys and the camaraderie that goes with team sport, especially when you are travelling so much together as a group.”
Coach Kristian Woolf praised the duo for their leadership and positive influence on the team.
“Both players have been an integral part of the team,” Woolf said.
“They were the perfect fit for the type of people we wanted at the club.
“Ant has always been a tough competitor and someone other players can lean on and look up to.
“Walshy is also extremely talented and has a really good understanding of what you want in a game and how to put it in to play, and he has the skill set to match.”
The Intrust Super Cup game kicks off at Jack Manski Oval this Saturday at 4pm.
Prior to this game will be the Police v Army Charity Match for the Islah’s Sparkle Shield.